Prosecutors Really Screwed Up, Woman Says
ST. LOUIS (CN) - An in-home caregiver spent 5 months in jail and lost custody of her children after state prosecutors recklessly and maliciously charged her with sexual abuse, she claims in court.
Peggy Sue Busby sued St. Charles County, St. Charles Prosecuting Attorney Timothy A. Lohmar, St. Charles Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Rebecca Shaffar and St. Peters Dets. Chris Golet and Nicole Maynard, on Wednesday in Federal Court.
Busby was one of six in-home caregivers to patient S.P., a severely-disabled 27-year-old woman who cannot speak.
Busby claims S.P.'s mother, Cassie Pettit, started secretly videotaping Busby's interaction with S.P. after Pettit believed S.P. had become increasingly combative. Pettit gave the videos to the defendants after viewing what she believed to be sexual abuse, Busby says in the lawsuit.
On Aug. 20, 2012, Busby says, she voluntarily spoke with Golet and Maynard about the accusations and had an explanation for each of the perceived sexual abuse acts.
"(I)n the police interview, plaintiff denied ever having any sexual contact of any sort with S.P.," the complaint states. "She specifically denied ever penetrating S.P. with her fingers, ever placing her mouth on S.P.'s vagina, and ever rubbing on S.P. for sexual gratification. Plaintiff viewed the video footage and further stated that:
"a. That the August 13, 2012 video footage depicts plaintiff checking S.P.'s Depend undergarment for urination and that she was performing this action in the manner in which she was trained to check the Depend undergarment.
"b. That the August 14, 2012 footage depicts plaintiff cleaning a large bowel movement.
"c. That the August 16, 2012 footage depicts plaintiff attempting to take S.P.'s Depends undergarments off of her and plaintiff could not reach her. Plaintiff stated she climbed on the bed and removed S.P.s Depend undergarments in the scope and course of her employment as caretaker of S.P."
On Feb. 15, 2013, Lohmar and Shaffar filed an indictment charging Busby with three counts of deviant sexual assault and one count of forcible sodomy.
"(T)he sum total of evidence against plaintiff in the criminal case was the videotape surveillance," the complaint states. "None of the videotape surveillance depicts plaintiff committing deviate sexual intercourse or forcible sodomy."
Busby says she was arrested and held in the St. Charles County Jail on a $50,000 cash-only bond. Since she couldn't pay the bond, Busby was forced to stay in jail for the duration of the case.
"(O)n September 30, 2013, at the request of plaintiff's defense counsel, the defendant's Lohmar and Shaffar reviewed the videotape evidence from August 13, 14, and 16, 2012," the complaint states. "Upon review of the videotapes it was discovered that the videotapes did not contain any evidence of sexual abuse on the part of the plaintiff against S.P. and in fact there was no evidence whatsoever that plaintiff had committed sexual abuse against S.P."
Busby adds: "That on September 30, 2013, plaintiff was released from the St. Charles County Jail on her own record recognizance and on October 2, 2013, the State entered a memorandum of Nolle Prosequi on all charges.
"That plaintiff was confined in the St. Charles County Jail for approximately 5 months. Her two children, who reside with her full time, were placed with family members. Her daughter attempted suicide. Plaintiff lost her rental home, job, vehicle and was released with her life in shambles. Plaintiff had to fight to regain custody of her son and had to work her hard to reestablish a residence, obtain a vehicle and rebuild her life."
Busby seeks $5 million in compensatory and $5 million in punitive damages for violations of due process, malicious prosecution, failure to intervene and false arrest. She is represented by Melissa Featherston in St. Louis.
St. Charles County is 25 miles west of St. Louis.